Workers in the construction industry face greater physical, emotional, and mental health risks than individuals in other industries. And throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, construction workers, who were deemed essential, faced even greater threats. This Construction Safety Week offers an opportunity to further raise awareness about the challenges workers in our industry face and to prioritize their safety both on and off site. Site owners and managers are responsible for installing proper safety protocols, but workers themselves should take ownership of their own safety by familiarizing themselves with the protocols on their respective jobsites and practicing effective communication.
New York has made construction safety a priority – especially in recent years. Just two weeks ago, the New York City Department of Buildings instituted five new construction safety bills and comprehensive updates to its construction codes. New safety efforts enacted in 2018, including construction safety training, has led to a 34 percent decrease in injuries on site. Site owners and managers must follow all state and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance, provide safety tools and equipment, and ensure proper training is offered before any work is conducted on site.
Workers can do their part by assessing the area before approaching a project, to identify any potentially dangerous situations. Prior to using any tools, inspect them carefully to ensure they are not hazardous or broken. When approaching scaffolding, be sure to find solid footing. Wear the correct personal protective equipment, including helmets, ear protection, and safety goggles before beginning any new task. While it is easy to feel rushed on the job, workers must be sure to put safety first. You can only work and finish the job if you’re safe and healthy.
When observing potential risk, it is also important to communicate your findings with colleagues. Doing so helps projects progress more efficiently and safely. This can be done through verbal confirmation of risk or installing appropriate signage around areas that may cause harm. It is also important to speak up about any injuries or difficulties, both mentally and physically, to ensure they are dealt with in a timely manner and don’t hamper your ability to perform long-term.